Weaving fuels social enterprise

NANAIMO – Nanaimo Association for Community Living develops new program.

Nanaimo Association for Community Living's new social enterprise uses saori weaving to create empowerment and spark creativity. Kim Cowley-Adam, left, weaving facilitator and Barb Barry, community inclusion and employment services manager at NACL watch Brenda Ackerman take to the loom.

Nanaimo Association for Community Living's new social enterprise uses saori weaving to create empowerment and spark creativity. Kim Cowley-Adam, left, weaving facilitator and Barb Barry, community inclusion and employment services manager at NACL watch Brenda Ackerman take to the loom.

Imperfections might ruin the work of traditional weavers, but it’s celebrated on the loom at Nanaimo Association for Community Living, where saori weaving is breaking the rules and fuelling a new social enterprise.

The association is creating its first, independent social enterprise where people with developmental disabilities will build a business out of saori weaving by selling what they create and teaching classes to the community.

It’s all about sustainable employment for individuals and the benefits that go along with it, according to Barb Barry, community inclusion and employment services manager at NACL, who said participants will learn to create, market and sell, how to hold workshops and how to bill. Money made in the venture will go to the people involved with the business, as well as materials and the instructor.

“People we support have an opportunity to make some money, do something really creative and drive the bus so to speak,” said Barry.

The social enterprise will launch with $2,500 in seed money from Mid-Island Co-op, which will go toward material, a loom and adaptive equipment, so the loom is wheelchair accessible. The community is also being invited to take part, either in purchasing products or joining the weaving classes.

People won’t have to invest in supplies with the yarn and looms supplied by NACL and will instead pay based on the weight of their finished piece. Teaching the community is meant to be empowering for the enterprise members, who Barry said are usually the receivers of service and instead will run the show.

Kim Cowley-Adam, weaving facilitator, said saori weaving comes from Japan, developed 50 years ago and has become a huge movement. She sees it as the right kind of weaving for this enterprise because as an art form, it’s always marketable.

“The nice part about saori weaving is that there are no rules, there’s no boundaries so the mantra is, ‘I wonder what happens what I do this’,” she said. “It’s an incredible form of self expression and of exploring the individual’s creativity, you know, it kind of pushes their boundaries.”

Cowley-Adam has displayed students’ works, along with her own, across a couch at NACL’s Cavan Street building. She points to one creation where threads that are usually hidden, float on top. The student forgot to change his feet, but she said it creates an interesting weave structure. It’s the beauty in the imperfection.

“Saori weaving is really delightful because it breaks all the rules, breaks all the traditional rules of weaving and creates something that tells you something about the person,” she said.

NACL will host a demonstration and information session for the saori weaving social enterprise from 1- 3 p.m. Saturday (April 1) at its day program, 83 Victoria Cres. The session is meant to generate interest for participation in classes.

Nanaimo News Bulletin